2 October, 1999
One week! One week and I will be leaving for perhaps my greatest adventure. Antarctica! I have been anticipating this for so long that it does not even seem real. But here it is. On Sunday, October 10th, I will leave Appleton, Wisconsin, fly though Chicago to Los Angeles. I will leave Los Angeles about 10:30PM (Pacific Time) and arrive in Auckland New Zealand on the morning of Tuesday, October 12th (my birthday!) What happened to the 11th? Someone asked me the other day "Are you ready for your trip to Antarctica?" I thought, how could you really be ready for such a trip? I will be gone for 8 weeks to an environment, which is about as different from my everyday life as can be. I think I'm prepared. I have read a lot about Antarctica. I have tried to learn as much as I could about the conditions there, the animals, the geology and most importantly, the life at McMurdo Station, the base where I will be spending most of my time. Several books have been parcticularly helpful. The Lonely Planet Guide to Antarctica by Jeff Rubin provided some insights and practical information about getting to and living in Antarctica. This book seems to be primarily written for tourists traveling with the several tour companies who bring groups to the southern continent. I found it most useful in providing information about the travel through New Zealand and the life at McMurdo. I also read a good novel entitled "Antarctica" by Kim Stanley Robinson. The book was a science fiction piece about a time when the Antarctica Treaty was about to expire. Robinson spent time in Antarctica as part of a NSF Artist and Writers' Program. The book painted an interesting picture of the social interaction of the people who live at the various research bases. I will be interesting to compare this work of fiction with how things really are. In short, I have tried to learn as much as I can about Antarctica before I leave.
To prepare to be part of the Cape Robertís Project science team, I have read quite a bit of background on microfossils and, specifically palynology. Dr. John Wrenn, the Principal Investigator for the project I am involved in, has provided me with many arcticles on his specialty and the processing of palynological samples. I traveled to Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge this summer to receive some training in the lab and to gain some experience in obtaining and processing samples. I trained in the lab at the Center for Excellence in Palynology at LSU. We spent some time at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) in Cocodrie, LA where we obtained sediments samples from various delta and off shore locations. Below is a picture of one of our trips. Dr. Wrenn and his graduate assistants did a great job teaching me what I will need to know to contribute to the project. For more information about the Cape Robertís Project, check out this Webster: http://www.newscientist.com/ns/970823/ndrilling.html and http://esg.erim-int.com/CapeRoberts/. If you wish to learn more about palynology, a good place to start would be this collection of palynology sites: http://www.ualberta.ca/~abeaudoi/cap/links/websites.htm. The LUMCON website is http://www.lumcon.edu/.
I have visited many classrooms to invite students to join me on the trip by following along on the Internet. To date I have visited over 20 elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and colleges talking to people about the trip. I have met over 3500 students and shared with them my excitement about the journey. I hope many of them, and others, follow along. Below is a picture taken during one of the many elementary presentations.
I haven't really started packing yet. I will post another journal entry on the Saturday before I leave and let you know what I am taking along on this adventure to the "Deep South". Talk to you then.
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